Focus on solutions puts Canada ahead: GE Access

KEYSTONE, Colo. — Managing a business is much like the balancing act of an acrobat and Canadian solutions providers are taking centre stage, according to GE Access.

New Frontiers Conference 2002 started with an acrobatic performance,

providing president and CEO John Paget some inspiration for his opening remarks. Paget told his audience business management, like gymnastics, requires focus, dedication and vision, as well as the ability to recognize that everything could tumble down unexpectedly.

It’s a reality solutions providers are all too aware of, Paget said. “”Everyone in this room is a survivor,”” he said. “”We faced this past year head-on and won.””

But now, he added, it’s time for SPs to refocus, re-energize and rebuild their businesses by tapping into new opportunities.

In an interview with Computer Dealer News, Paget said Canadian SPs provide a premiere example of how to face a tough economy. “”A number of years ago (Canadian solutions providers) began to understand and implement this concept of selling a solution versus selling hardware, software, networks,”” he said.

“”The U.S. is starting to get to that point, but we’ve probably invested more in education and knowledge transfer around building a solution practice in the U.S. than we ever had to in Canada. Canadian solutions providers are much more willing to experiment and much more willing to invest in the training of their engineers.””

Canada’s smaller population and different sales culture are two possible reasons for this contrast, he said. “”Relationships seem to be critically important in Canada between the solutions providers and the end users.””

Paget said he expects to see Canadians pushing the envelope when it comes to wireless and security technologies. “”The networking business in Canada is seeming to grow,”” he said. “”The storage market is starting to take off. Both of those are really positive markets.”” But the fastest growing market has to be security, he said. “”If I were a solutions provider in Canada, I would be dilligently focused on the security marketplace. It fits with what they’re doing from a total solution standpoint. Somebody may have enough storage capacity or they may have a network that they’ve built that’s good enough. But I assure you there is not a single end user out there that is sufficiently secure.””

In his keynote Paget emphasized the importance of high-value solutions selling rather than the practice of just pushing point products. “”A while ago integration was considered a value-add in hardware sales,”” he said, adding that the situation has changed: end-to-end solutions are now the norm.

One only needs to examine the business processes of successful companies in the consumer space to catch a glimpse of where the IT industry is heading, said Paget. Walmart, for example, has choosen the low-value, low margin and high turn business model, while Tiffany’s appears at the other end of the spectrum with a focus on high value, investment and return.

Both scenarios, according to Paget, indicate “”consumers are migrating to extremes; there is simply no room in the middle.””

That’s not only true for the consumer space, he noted. To satisfy the demand for low prices, vendors will sell direct, but they need the channel for solutions.

However, high-value solutions selling is nothing new for Canadians, Paget told CDN. “”Of all the solutions providers in Canada, I only know of a couple that don’t have high-value businesses — and I would not expect them to make it to the end.””

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